Not a hang glider, but a Glider!

Well this Sat-Sun the wind was a bit too gusty to go for a HG flight so I went down to the Greater Houston Soaring Association in Wallis, Tx. to go for a glider ride.

The last time I went up in a glider was back in the 80’s when I was probably 4 or 5 years old with my dad.  When I was a kid both my mom and dad flew sailplanes at TSA and Aerocountry.  So it was kinda neat getting back in one and this time I was able to fly for a while!

The L23 Super Blanik

that we flew in must have been 40 years old!  This thing was a beast!  I felt like I was going to be flying over enemy lines with this thing!  It was kinda clunky and the leading edges were gritty.  But, I was still stoked to climb in and get a tow and look for some lift.  With the way the wind was gusting I got an extra high tow up to 4000′ and the clear blue sky didn’t offer much until we flew back over the runway.  The audio for the vario didn’t work, so I had one eye on the variometer and the other out the window.  I held the stick lightly and was able to circle up in some 400fpm up and climb 500′.  I didn’t know what to do with the rudder pedals and so I left them alone, I could sense Dean in the back seat correcting my rudder for me.  Anyways, I circled in the thermal but I had trouble keeping my nose steady, I was porpoising around.  In the Hang Glider having a stall is not that big of a deal, I assumed that a stall in this beast was probably a different story.  So Dean let me know when my nose was too high…I had my eyes on the speed, vario and altimeter all at the same time.  I would remind myself to look up every now and then.

The hangar where I grew up as a kid in Aerocountry Tx.

Over all I had a lot of fun!  It brought back a lot of memories when I was a youngster running around the old gliderport.

Also, I’m thinking of starting a pledge drive to keep this blog going.  I need about 50 dollars a year to maintain this page.  I figure if you watch a video that should be a $1.00 donation…does that sound like too much?

XC Weekend

The 3 day easter weekend kicked off on Friday.  Jason was getting us all stirred up about going flying and we had an XCSkies conference call the night before.  The XCskies were looking good but not too promising…never the less, we were getting pumped up to go fly!  Makbule was also off that Friday and we talked on the phone about flying and then having Christopher drive for us three…in an XC adventure.   Ingo soon sniffed out the situation, it turned out that he also had Friday off work and he jumped in on the opportunity to go fly.   

Friday rolls around and the sky is looking a little raggedy, the bottoms of the clouds are ragged and the cloudbase was really low.  I was really anxious to get up in the sky and I was set up and launched by 1…
I was able to stick with a nice little thermal but the wind aloft was blowing considerably stronger than it was on the ground which made it tricky to stay in the thermals.  The idea of hanging out and waiting for the rest of the crew to get up was blown away with the wind, literally.  Cloudbase was about 3000′ and before I knew it I was reporting on the radio over Juniors…   I tried to communicate my position the best I could…”This is Ty, XCerror of plus 4, over Juniors, 2200′”  no one was able to copy my transmission…oh well I thought I’m just going to go for it.  Luckily, from my tow release altitude It was easier to stay with the thermals…up high it was easy, you could get a full circle within the thermal.  Down low on the other hand was more complicated.  It seemed that you would hit lift and as soon as you turned in it the vario would turn off…So I figured that the thermals were shaped lengthwise in long oval shapes, so I would hit it downwind, do a quick 180 and hit it upwind and viceversa.
THere was rain ahead of me and behind me…with all the wind up high I was anxious to jump to the next cloud.  By this time though, there was not a lot of sun left around…cirrus clouds up high had moved over us and everything looked a lot more shady.  So I decided to try for the sunny edges of the clouds, what was left of the sunny areas,  nothing to turn in so my last ditch was to try for some darker clouds that weren’t raining and had curved bottoms.  No dice.
Not 100% ready to give up on the day at 1400′ I tried a tree line, just little bubbles, and I’d lose more trying to turn around in it,  1000′ ahh ok how about this raised area, more little bubbles…shoot 800′ OK time to consider a good landing area 500′ my heart sank…all my landing fields that I wrote off as acceptable were turning out to be not so nice afterall…there was quite a bit more rain that had happened in this area before hand and now flying above my LZ’s the whole area is shimmering with standing water.   Son of a B****!  this is going to be a wet one I thought.
Still not ready to give up on the day at 300′ on the tree line by my LZ I hit a big bubble…and a big gaggle of hawks and buzzards jump out of the forrest and fly up to help me core this one….it was a little too dicey for me…with the wind the way it was if I didn’t snag it I would end up in the trees.  I decided to get out of there and land on an elevated road that didn’t have water standing on it… the wind was really twitchy but I was able to pull off a good landing, only my wingtip stalled and I dropped it in the mud.
It was eXCiting!
I’m not sure on Ingo and Mak on their distance but you can see mine on Leonardo.  Jason had his personal best.  My flight was about 19miles Friday.
Saturday Flew again with Jason, Robin, and had my wife drive.
Sunday flew AGAIN, it was pretty much a repeat of the past couple of days, breezy, low cloudbases, and thankfully Jason drove for me.
I was hoping to beat my personal best that weekend, but the conditions were a bit too challenging for me to stay with it.  Oh well, looking forward to the really GOOD days.
Ty